Restoring our roads and bridges
Posted on March 6, 2018 13:11 pm CST
By Congressman Billy Long,
Missouri has the seventh most highway miles of any state, not to mention the railroad traffic and an intricate lock and dam system on our rivers. What do they have in common? They all need to be updated. After years of neglect, our infrastructure is deteriorating. This is an issue that hits every part of the U.S. As President Trump said from day one, it’s time to rebuild our country’s infrastructure with American heart, American hands and American grit. The president, along with the help of Congress, has a plan to tackle this problem.
Infrastructure issues come in all shapes and sizes. From 2011 to 2016, potholes on our roads cost drivers $15 billion in damages. The average driver was paying $300 for these fixes. And when 39 percent of Americans have no money in their savings accounts, a simple fix like that becomes a huge expense that some struggle to afford or simply cannot afford. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that for every dollar invested in our roads, bridges and highways, the average savings will be $5.20 per dollar invested. These savings will come in the form of less yearly maintenance costs for roads, bridges, highways and vehicles if we make this infrastructure investment.
With 4 million miles of roads and more than 600,000 bridges in the U.S., investing in infrastructure is essential, especially when individuals such as first responders and school bus drivers are relying on it every day. Just recently, the American Society of Civil Engineers released a report that gave the U.S. a D+ rating for its infrastructure. It should come as no surprise that 84 percent of Americans agree that we need to invest in our infrastructure.
Sadly, Missouri isn’t much better. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Missouri a C- rating for its infrastructure. Of the 131,549 miles of public roads, 24 percent of them are in poor condition, and of the 2,098 bridges, nearly 13 percent are in poor condition. Similar to the federal level, Missouri also needs significant investment in its infrastructure including locks and dams.
Recently, President Trump announced his plan to fix our crumbling infrastructure. This plan includes a $200 billion investment from the federal government that would spur a $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment across states, localities and the private sector. Of the $200 billion that would be invested, $100 billion would go toward an incentive program that would encourage additional funds to go toward infrastructure programs at the different levels. The rest goes toward a variety of projects, initiatives and streamlining the permit process.
And as for the unnecessary red tape that stalls investment and innovation, that too would be addressed and fixed. The time it takes to get permits for infrastructure projects would not only be streamlined but also shortened. Congress has worked toward fixing this issue in the past, but there is still a lot more work to be done.
Since the 1990s, the U.S. has continually failed to receive a “passing” grade when it comes to infrastructure. That’s about to change. There are few things we agree on here in Washington, but investing in infrastructure is one of them.